Characters: Renji, Ishida
Disclaimer: The characters of Bleach belong to the author and his publishers.
Summary: It's nice to have someone looking out for you.
“It’s your turn to sleep in the wet spot.”
“No, it’s not,” Ishida said, annoyed now. Amazing how quickly sated-and-relaxed turned to annoyed-and-tetchy in Abarai’s company.
What annoyed him was Abarai’s lazy, confident assurance that he was totally right. “It is definitely not my turn,” Ishida said. But the redhead stretched out his long arms and legs, laying claim to the half of the bed that was relatively unmussed and wet-spot-free.
“Abarai,” Ishida warned.
“Hey, I need my sleep,” Abarai protested. “You’re very tiring.”
Ishida, mouth open to deliver a stinging retort, realized that this could, in fact, be construed as a compliment, and by the time that moment of realization had come and gone his ire had passed. That was what generally happened when he tried to be angry with Abarai.
Who was grinning, well aware of that fact. “Besides,” continued Abarai, “the last few weeks have been pretty rough for me. I need extra consideration so I can recuperate.”
“Ha. As if they haven’t been just as bad for me. If not worse.”
“Oh, please,” said Abarai. “I was beaten nearly to death by Kurosaki. Then I was beaten a lot closer to death by my captain, who actually left me for dead.”
“I fought that degenerate Mayuri and lost my powers,” Ishida countered. “And then my own father almost killed me to get them back. And then—”
Abarai raised his voice, trying to override Ishida’s. “Then we went to Hueco Mundo and fought that bastard Szael, and I got—”
Ishida raised his voice too. “I went to Hueco Mundo, fought Cirucci and barely won, fought Szael and lost—”
“I wouldn’t say we lost!” Abarai protested.
“Got my stomach liquefied,” continued Ishida, “and was rescued by the man who was responsible for the death and hideous torture of my entire clan.”
“Well, I…” Abarai said.
“Plus I was stuck with you almost the entire time.”
“Well—I—I—I’m in love with a woman who’s in love with Kurosaki.”
There was a long, fraught moment of silence.
“Okay, all right, fine.” Ishida sighed and moved over. “You’re officially more pathetic than I am. But this is the last time I let your crappy love life guilt me into sleeping in the wet spot.”
Abarai settled back into the dry sheets, closed his eyes and stretched luxuriously. “Hey, you don’t know how hard it is to spend a hundred years in love with a woman who doesn’t know you exist.”
“No, because I’m not going to live that long,” Ishida muttered.
Abarai’s eyes opened. “What was that?”
“Nothing.” Ishida reddened. That had been a mistake. Abarai might look like a fool and act like a fool, but he could be sharp as a blade at the most unexpected times. And it looked like this was one of those times. Abarai was grinning, looking as pleased as if it was his birthday and Christmas all rolled into one.
“You like someone? Really? Who?”
“No one. Drop it.”
Abarai propped himself up on an elbow. “Come on, tell me.”
Oh, why couldn’t he have kept his mouth shut? There were bulldogs with less tenacity than Abarai.
“Come on, Ishida. Tell me or I tickle you.”
Well, he could withstand tickling, and once it started he could distract Abarai. And that could end up being fairly fun, after all.
He’d forgotten that Abarai was having one of his sharp moments.
“Nah, that won’t work,” Abarai mused aloud. “You’ll only distract me. How about this—tell me or I’ll go ask your friends. Not Kurosaki, he never knows anything. But I bet Inoue would—“
Ishida’s eyes flew open. “Don’t you dare say one word to Inoue!”
Abarai’s eyebrows shot toward his hairline. “Inoue?”
Ishida rolled away from Abarai—right into the wet spot, of course. Dammit.
“You like Inoue?” Abarai persisted.
Ishida, his back to Abarai, shrugged.
“Are you kidding me? That’s hopeless, Ishida. Inoue’s crazy about Kurosaki. She worships Kurosaki.”
Ishida closed his eyes. That was true. It was a fact of the universe or something. Like gravity. He was a meteorite drawn inexorably toward Orihime. She was a planet caught in Kurosaki’s orbit. How unfair was that? It’s not like he asked for this overwhelming attraction. It’s not like he wanted to be hurtling toward almost-certain heartbreak.
Next to him, Abarai stirred. “Ishida? You still awake?”
He sighed. “No. Go to sleep.”
“You gotta give up on that,” Abarai said. “Take it from me. I know hopeless. I’m pretty damn hopeless myself. And I hate to see you breaking your heart over it.”
There were little rectangles of light on the wall, filtering in through the blinds. Ishida counted them out. One hundred and fifty-six little rectangles.
Abarai nudged his shoulder. “But you never give up on anything, do ya. You’re serious about Inoue. Right?”
Ishida said nothing. The silence stretched out and out for a long minute. Well, really, what was there to say?
Renji got out of bed. “Move over.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m sleeping in the wet spot, what does it look like I’m doing?”
“Abarai, you don’t have to—”
A hard shove in the small of his back rolled Ishida to the far side of the bed again. “Shut up.”
“I said you don’t have to—” Ishida tried again. He didn’t want the shinigami feeling sorry for him. He didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him. That was the last thing he wanted.
Still, it was nice to have someone worrying about you. Looking out for you.
Abarai, settled back onto the bed, yawned hugely. “Shut up and go to sleep already.”
And he did, cradled by the warmth Abarai had left behind.